I grew up in Berkeley, CA, where we are wayyyy liberal and proud of it! Gay, lesbian, or bi? Not a problem.
I was so immersed in accepting others who did not define themselves as heterosexual that homophobia seemed unthinkable, something distant and far away. Hearing my first homophobic remark the summer after I graduated high school was shocking!
That fluidity of sexual orientation is natural to me, but I have to admit, gender fluidity isn’t.
From my youth, I internalized strong distinctions of boy and girl, and I bet you did, too. Many of us struggle a bit with those who define themselves differently, as trans or queer or agender. Plus it’s super challenging to shift our language to new sets of pronouns!
Because I’m naturally sensitive to the sexual orientation spectrum, I have an understanding of how our kids feel, growing up with gender diversity, but I know I myself am not fluent. I struggle at times and have awkward moments. I don’t feel like a native.
I think we all understand that everyone simply wants to be known and loved and accepted for who they are, and many of us want to be that loving and accepting person, no matter what our child’s – or a community member’s – sexual identity. Yet, it’s not simple!
I get lots of questions about navigating gender norms and how to talk to our children about other kids who are transitioning. The first thing I say is that I’m NOT an expert in anything LGBTQIA – I’m learning too! I hope any of you who are local will consider a much deeper resource, attending the 2018 Gender Spectrum Conference this July.
For everyone else, if you’re looking to dip your toes in and get a basic overview, I invite you to learn along with me. I’ve pulled all the interviews I’ve conducted so far, on sexual orientation, gender orientation, and relationship orientation and grouped them into one bundle: the Parenting Sexual Identity video series. Come learn with me from the experts!
What’s normal for you might be monogamy and heterosexuality and clear gender polarity. That’s not the world our kids are living in. There’s a lot of diversity out there, lots of conversations to have about how we define ourselves, what our authentic identity is.
I understand how unnerving it can be to upend basic assumptions and foundational concepts. I hope you won’t pull back from these conversations, and that if you need a foundation, you’ll check out the video series. It’s totally ok to be learning and questioning.
In support of you,